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DSTI, UNICEF and MBSSE Train 84 Education Stakeholders across 4 Districts on the use and Benefits of the Learning Passport

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) and the  United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)   delivered a four (4) day training to 84 senior education stakeholders on the use of the – MBSSE Learning Passport (MBSSE-LP). The training took place across four districts; Port Loko,  Makeni, Bo and Kenema from the 26th – 30th of August 2022.

(DSTI’s LP Project Lead, Bani Forster Gives LP Overview Before Live Demo)

This training of education stakeholders promises to enhance examination preparedness amongst school children and improve general learning outcomes nationwide. This is one of those rare occasions where the promise of practical solutions is being shared with those who need it most.

(Training Participants With Staff From UNICEF, DSTI & MBSSE In Port Loko)

From the very start, the training which featured presentations on varied use cases and practical breakout sessions on the use of the platform held the promise of exploring a new frontier in digital education and dispel myths about leveraging tech for public education in Sierra Leone.

(Janice Williams, UNICEF’s LP Coordinator, Aiding Participants With The Mobile LP During Breakout Session In Port Loko)

The Learning Passport (LP) is a UNICEF and Microsoft-supported digital education platform that provides online, offline and mobile access to educational resources via technology devices. Learning Passport (LP) forms part of UNICEF’s ReImagine Education agenda under the flagship program Generation Unlimited

(UNICEF’s Innovation Officer, Janice Williams, Making The Opening Statement In Port Loko)

“Projects that advance digital learning like the Learning Passport, Digital Learning Hubs (DLH) and Giga provide the unique opportunity for Sierra Leone to adopt a dynamic, fluid and progressive approach towards innovation and digitization’’. – Janice Kaday Williams, Innovation Officer, UNICEF.

In line with the Government’s Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Programme, the MBSSE LP looks to make learning opportunities accessible, equitable and available on a large scale. The platform was launched in February 2022 and has recorded a consistent increase in its use with over 10,000 registered users. 

(Training Participants With Staff From UNICEF’s, DSTI & MBSSE In Bo District)

‘‘Building sustainable solutions to address critical skills deficits and prepare young people for a fast-paced digital future remains one of our compelling priorities at DSTI. The MBSSE-Learning Passport seeks to equip learners with digitized learning materials, past questions and most importantly mock exams with automated results.’’ – Jasper Sembie, Head of Operations & Finance, DSTI.

The training brought together personnel from the Teaching Service commission (TSC) and senior education staff from the respective districts for extended discussions on how this platform can be integrated into the learning process and used by school children for improved performance in public examinations. This will particularly provide access to quality learning resources for children in less privileged communities and help parents save money previously used to purchase past exam questions.

(Training Participant From TSC in Makeni Making A Contribution)

Speaking on the outcome of the trainings, Regional Coordinator (North) FSQE, Mr. Allieu Dausy Wurie and Director of Curriculum & Research MBSSE, Mr. Osman Kamara jointly emphasised that the training ‘is testament to the shared will and unsullied commitment between government and its development partners to increase access to quality learning opportunities in Sierra Leone. We will ensure that the knowledge acquired from this training trickles down into communities’’.

(Director of Curriculum & Research at MBSSE, Mr. Osman Kamara, Outlining The Goals of The Training in Port Loko)

NEXT STEPS

When asked “What’s Next ?”,  LP & DLH Project Coordinator at DSTI, Bani Forster,  confirmed that the wider team is currently holding consultations on the possibility of upscaling the training to include teachers and cover more provincial areas for targeted impact.  

He further explained that three (3) new learning hubs are set to be opened and these centres will provide users with access to the internet and computers where the LP can be used with ease and convenience.

“Learning Passport has the latent potential to redefine existing notions about the role of tech in accelerating learning outcomes. Our goal is to provide every child with choice, opportunities and quality education. These training sessions revealed so much excitement, positive energy and avenues for development; digital learning in Sierra Leone can only get better from here onward.” – Bani Forster, LP Project Lead, DSTI.

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Sierra Leone Organises First Mining Community Innovation Challenge Hackathon 

Freetown, September 27th, 2022—With the goal of creating innovative opportunities and driving sustainable skills development for youth, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the BHP Foundation, the National Minerals Agency (NMA), and Sensi Tech Hub, will host Sierra Leone’s first-ever Mining Community Innovation Challenge (MCIC) Hackathon. The event, part of the IFC’s From Disclosure to Development (D2D) Program, will be held September 27th–29th 2022, from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm GMT at  Sensi Tech Innovation Hub in Freetown. 

The focus of the three-day hackathon aligns with the theme of this year’s International Youth Day, “Intergenerational Solidarity; Creating a World for All Ages.” United Nations Secretary-General António- Guterres has highlighted the importance of action across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaving no one behind.

Specifically, the MCIC hackathon targets innovators who will develop sustainable and data-informed solutions for challenges facing Sierra Leone’s mining communities. Participants will identify solutions in several key areas, including:

  • Community engagement and social responsibility
  • Financial transparency and economic advantage 
  • Youth employment
  • Health and safety 
  • Land management and regulatory compliance 
  • Equal opportunity for women and girls in mining communities 

“IFC is delighted to support the government of Sierra Leone through the From Disclosure to Development program to strengthen the digital entrepreneurship ecosystem, with a focus on mining communities,” said Alexandra Celestin, IFC’s resident representative for Sierra Leone. “In line with IFC’s strong commitment to supporting sustainable mining, as well as the country’s youth and entrepreneurs, we hope that the Mining Community Innovation Challenge will support the development of innovative, data-driven solutions that will improve the well-being of people in mining communities.”

The event is open to community representatives, stakeholders, NGOs, development partners, and industry professionals, including tech developers, data analysts, media content creators, and entrepreneurs. The format is designed to encourage dialogue and collaboration to collectively map out ideas and development solutions to mitigate key challenges. 

The hackathon also presents an opportunity for the government of Sierra Leone and mining industry stakeholders to promote best global practices and enhance transparency by improving mining communities’ understanding of the industry’s contributions to local economic development and to the strengthening of the overall mining ecosystem.

Morris Marrah, Country Director for Sensi Tech Innovation Hub, said, “One of our key objectives is to build a technology innovation community in Sierra Leone that drives economic and social development by creating an enabling and stimulating community hub for technologists, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders.” The hackathon is a way to bring everyone together to develop their ideas and access cutting-edge tech, grants funding, events, incubation and acceleration programs, networking, training, and job opportunities, he added.

Noted DSTI data scientist Glenna Wilson, “Such initiatives that leverage skills, engage the creative minds of the youths, and promote the importance of data in innovation in Sierra Leone are welcomed.” 

The top five teams to emerge from the hackathon will have the opportunity to work with industry- leading experts and receive mentorship in a robust, post-event boot camp program, which will help them scale up their concepts. The boot camp program will also teach participants how to pitch their solutions and interface with potential investors, public-private partners, and the press. A panel of esteemed judges will select the two top teams, which will win the equivalent of cash prizes: first prize, $2,000; second prize, $1,000.

Sponsors and organisers

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) — a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

The BHP Foundation  works to address some of the world’s most critical sustainable development challenges. It is a charitable foundation funded by BHP and through its programs, the Foundation addresses challenges that are directly relevant to the resources sector. (https://www.bhp.com/sustainability/communities/bhp-foundation

  

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) sits in the Office of the President and executes its functions through the Office of the Chief Minister. The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) serves as an Advisor to the President and Chief Minister of Sierra Leone. DSTI’s vision is to use science, technology, and innovation to support the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver on its national development plan effectively and efficiently; and to help transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub. (https://www.dsti.gov.sl) 

Sensi Tech Innovation Hub  is the first hub of its kind to be established in Sierra Leone since the country gained its independence in 1961. Its main objective is to build a technology innovation community in Sierra Leone that drives economic and social development by providing an open and stimulating community hub for technologists, entrepreneurs, and creatives to come together, develop their ideas, and access cutting-edge tech, grants funding, events, incubation and acceleration programs, networking, training and jobs opportunities. (http://sensi-sl.org/)   

The National Mineral Agency (NMA)  was established by an act of parliament in 2012, The National Minerals Agency Act (2012), and on 7th March 2013 by His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The creation of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) was based on Government approval of a transformation plan to restructure the institutional governance of the mining sector so that the governance role is separated from the operational role.  The NMA is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Mines and Minerals Act (2009) and other mining acts and related regulations. This includes responsibility for mineral rights management, collecting and disseminating geological information, and regulating the trading of precious minerals. (https://www.nma.gov.sl) 

Media Contact

If you would like to get in touch or speak to any of our spokespeople for an interview, please contact: 

Mariama Rogers

Communications Lead 

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation 

E: mariama.rogers@dsti.gov.sl 

P: +(232) 75709963

Or 

Mohamed Hemoh

MCIC Hackathon Challenge Project Manager

Sensi Tech Innovation Hub

E: mohamedhemoh@sensi-sl.org

P: + (232) 79030735

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NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Generation Unlimited Sierra Leone (GenU SL), an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs supported by DSTI and UNICEF, aims to develop young people’s educational and entrepreneurial portfolio, is set to launch a NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE.

The Generation Unlimited National Youth Innovation Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education/life skills and youth unemployment. The Youth Innovation Challenge is intentional in situating youth as leaders and drivers of our country’s development and provides for new structures and mechanisms to accelerate the empowerment of youth which make up over 40% of Sierra Leone’s population. 

This innovative challenge directly aligns with the priorities and implementation of the revised National Youth Policy. The revised National Youth Policy (2020–2025) is rooted in the President’s vision and commitment to harness the potential of Sierra Leone’s youth population for national development. 

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura at the Launch of the GenU National Partnership Committee.

“Government remains committed to putting youths at the center of its development agenda. A National Youth Challenge represents our hope for a prosperous future in Sierra Leone pioneered by youths” – Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs.

The National Youth Innovation Challenge aims to inspire, provide opportunities, and support young people between the ages of 12 and 25, especially those disadvantaged by poverty and lack the resources to bring their ideas and creativity to life. 

The National Youth Innovation Challenge welcomes young people between the ages of 12 and 25 regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, or disability to form teams and participate in the challenge.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in Human-Centered design workshops. Following these workshops, the five most promising ideas will be selected and awarded a cash prize of  1,000 USD each as seed funding and provided with mentorship and technical support for project implementation. Projects selected should be completed by July 2022. In addition, a Pre-Bootcamp workshop will be hosted in December 2021. 

The two most promising solutions from Sierra Leone will be submitted for consideration in the Global GenU Youth Challenge.

Interested applicants can apply https://bit.ly/GenUSLYouthInnovation

Applications will be open from the 28th of October 2022, and the deadline for all submissions is the 27th of November 2022 by 5:00 PM GMT.

For more information, contact us via email at genunlimited_sl@dsti.gov.

Or by phone SMS/text the word GENU to 2080 on Orange or Africell for FREE 

More photos of the launch

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Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer to participate in BBC CrowdScience Debate

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, will participate in BBC’s CrowdScience debate on the theme: “Can digital technology transform West Africa?”. The debate will be held at the British Council Tower Hill Auditorium in Freetown on Friday 24 January at 5:00 PM. This is part of national activities planned by the Government of Sierra Leone as part of the International Day of Education 2020.

Joining Dr. David Moinina Sengeh in the debate on how artificial intelligence is changing West Africa is Dr. Chika Yinka- Banjo from the University of Lagos and Ms. Nyalleng Moorosi from Google Artificial Intelligence in Ghana. These experts will explore how robots, drones, and machine learning tackle issues in agriculture, education, health, and governance in the sub-region.

BBC CrowdScience is a radio show that takes questions about life, Earth, and the Universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge. This will be the first of such debates held in Sierra Leone. Entrance for this event is free with registration. 

Crowd science opens up pathways for pursuing unconventional research ideas, blurs the boundaries between institutional science and civil society, provides opportunities for volunteer engagement in science, and enriches science communication. Crowd science also raises questions concerning data-driven approaches to scientific discovery as well as the development of mechanisms for automated quality assurance and feedback.

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Sierra Leone’s leading agencies for data, innovation sign MoU for knowledge ​sharing

The Directorate Of Science, Technology, & Innovation (DSTI) has signed a MoU with Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats-SL) to formalize ongoing collaborations on projects of national significance. The two agencies were lauded by the Minister of Planning, and Economic Development (MOPED), Mrs. Nabeela Tunis for combining their expertise for the advancement of the State.  

Dr. David Sengeh (l) CIO, DSTI, Madame Nabeela Tunis, Minister of Planning & Economic Development (MOPED), Prof. Osman Sankoh, Stats-SL, Mr. Robert Chakanda Dep. Minister, (MOPED)

“DSTI and Stats-SL are already implementing terms within the MoU showing their commitment to providing the Ministry of Planning with necessary data to make policies that will have a measurable impact on the lives of Sierra Leonean citizens,” said Mrs. Tunis.   “It is clear that there are minimal overlaps, meaning that the collaboration is efficient. The Ministry of Planning welcomes and supports this partnership.” The MoU is a commitment by both agencies to share information, and knowledge that will strengthen the problem-solving capacity of statisticians and data scientists at both organizations. “I already know this is a true partnership because even before DSTI showed any results using data we shared, they came to us to present the information. We jointly asked research questions and provided input into the analyses, ” said Prof. Osman Sankoh, Sierra Leone’s Statistician General. ”That’s what true partnership is about!”

Prof. Osman Sankoh, Statistician General (l) and colleagues with Dr. David Sengeh (r), Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology & Innovation

The two agencies have made inroads on projects ranging from an integrated national GIS solution to map government services and an interactive education dashboard that will allow policymakers to see how different indicators and facilities affect learning outcomes across the country. Mr. Robert Chakanda, Deputy Minister, MOPED, provided guidance and leadership to DSTI, and Stats-SL to ensure that projects are in line with the national agenda. By sharing data, Stats-SL enables the Data for Decision Making pillar of DSTI Sierra Leone. This partnership also further strengthens the innovation ecosystem across government and international development partners. “This is essentially a Memorandum of Action because DSTI and Stats-SL have already been working together on several projects and developed prototypes together,” said Dr. David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI. “I hope that we continue to share not just data, but also the knowledge that will drive Sierra Leone’s development through action.” President Julius Maada Bio commissioned the  Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation in October this year. One mandate of DSTI is to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation.
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